Cultivate Academy in Temple expands with a hands-on, seven-acre learning environment

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 12:41 PM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Students at Cultivate Academy, a full-time learning environment for students of all ages in Temple, now spend a few days a week at a seven-acre farm, learning entrepreneurial, agricultural, engineering and STEM skills.

“Cultivate Academy has been established just this year,” Doree Collins, Owner and Executive Director of Cultivate Academy, said. “We’re super excited. Our group is called the ‘Pioneers.’ This is our pilot year to actually create an academy system or process where the kids come in every day like they would in public school or anywhere else, and they spend a day together.”

Students spend three days a week learning at Cultivate Events and Enrichment Center, and, the other two, they spend connecting with nature at the Unincluded Club Urban Farm.

“The Unincluded Club Urban Farm, where we really do focus on the urban AG aspect of the Academy,” Collins said.

The farm is where they participate in hands-on learning activities like learning how to plant herbs and spices, grow and harvest microgreens and even build gardens.

Collins said she also teaches students the benefits of nature, life skills, engineering and entrepreneurship.

“The advantage is just being out in nature, having this space where it is still intentional, but it gives them freedom to just be,” she said. “If you create the environment to be conducive to the type of learning that you want, you will get the learning and you will get the process that you’re desiring.”

Compared to a normal school, she said Cultivate disconnects students from the electronics and the internet and reconnects them with nature.

As a former public school teacher, she wanted to give students this opportunity to have an alternative experience and environment to learn and think on a deeper level.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things that we understand we’ve gotten disconnected from is learning life skills, but I’m a certified educator,” Collins said. “I have my masters in educational leadership, so I’ve been in there. I know where the gaps are, and so...I’ve taken space to be able to create to fill those gaps.”

Alannah Kleinpeter is one of her pioneer students. She is 14 years old and would be a freshman in high school in Temple.

However, her mom thought Cultivate would be a better environment for Alannah to express herself in a positive environment.

“I feel that it feels good to be able to disconnect and just let nature be all over, and I like how we are free spirits,” Alannah said. “We are free thinkers. We are able to do what is good for us.”

Alannah is also a nature lover and garden connoisseur; therefore, when the group heads to the Urban Farm, she gets excited about what she will not only learn in the classroom but what she will learn from nature. She said she journals what she learns on her daily nature walks around the property.

Alannah sees the world around her in a positive light, and the Unincluded Club’s saying is “negativity is not an option.”

“We welcome all with open arms,” she said. “No negativity, no bullying and no hatred.”

She said it would be a great place for students who enjoy nature and thinking creatively.

One of Alannah’s favorite parts is the inventive nature of growing herbs and microgreens.

Students grow and sell pea or sunflower microgreens to grow in entrepreneurial skills. They sell at Treno Pizza and Cha Community in Temple as well as fairs, farmer’s markets.

“This is considered a super food because it is nutrient-rich,” Collins said. “This is our first crop that we used for our entrepreneurial process.”

The microgreens are just one aspect of the up-and-coming development of the Urban Farm. Collins hopes, in the next few years, the small cabin on a piece of the land will become a large learning environment for students and community members to use.

She plans to start having more fundraisers, applying for grants and hosting community events at the farm.

Cultivate Academy is not full just yet, so she encourages anyone interested to contact her.